A major communal welfare charity has chosen a non-Jew to be its next chief executive.
Helen Simmons will succeed the long-serving Leon Smith at Nightingale Hammerson, which has residential homes in south and north London. She will take up the post in November, when Mr Smith steps down after 40 years with the charity. Currently with the Diocese of London, Ms Simmons’s background is in charity finance. She has previously worked within the community at Jewish Care.
“I’m bringing expertise from a wide range of organisations,” she said. “At Crisis I did a lot of work on mental health and physical health. At the Multiple Sclerosis Society we were very focused on what people can do rather than what they can’t do, so that’s very relevant.
“I also took away that evidence-based approach and I’m glad to see Nightingale are using that in their approach to dementia.” She is looking forward to being “close to the coalface”, based at Nightingale in Clapham, as well as “celebrating Jewish traditions and festivals. That will be really exciting.”
Nightingale Hammerson chair Harvey Rosenblatt said: “Helen has extensive experience of the Jewish community and a wide-ranging and clear understanding of the important issues affecting the social care sector. Above all, throughout the selection process, Helen clearly demonstrated that she was the right person for the job.”
Mr Smith will take on the new role of executive vice-president, serving as an external ambassador for the charity with particular focus on major fundraising campaigns.